Calingae – The Film
Short video film made collaboratively by the participants of Calingae Video Art Workshop with Himanshu Desai, at the UTSHA Foundation for Contemporary Art, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India, in April 2016. The workshop was conducted by Himanshu Desai; as a part of the media arts residency organized by Jagannath Panda at the UTSHA Foundation.
This short film was a collaborative exercise in which the workshop participants shot all the footage and also participated in the editing and finalizing of the video. The narrative is a poem written by Indian artist and poet Ramakanta Samantray – that was later translated into English by himself collaboratively with Himanshu Desai, Sandeep Hota and Rupal Satpathy. The film is based on a simple question posed to its viewer – ‘Where is Kalinga today?’
Odisha was historically known as Kalinga. The greek explorer Megasthenes (350–290 BC), mentioned its name as ‘Calingae’ in his book ‘Indica”:
‘The tribes which dwell by the Ganges are the Calingae, nearest the sea, and higher up the Mandei, also the Malli, among whom is Mount Mallus, the boundary of all that region being the Ganges’. ~ Megasthenes (fragment XX.B. in Pliny).
Kalinga was known to be primarily a feudal society of tribes with no singular authoritative ruler. Over the centuries the region came under attack from various kings and armies – Ashoka the Great, The Gupta Dynasty, and later the Mughals, and the British East India Company. Centuries of conflict have morphed the region into what’s now known as modern Odisha. However the very word Kalinga invites mythical and mysterious feelings even today in the people of the region. Although Kalinga is considered a society of the past, to this day one can find the word Kalinga almost everywhere in Odisha: on signboards of shops, schools, colleges, companies, stadiums, hospitals etc. Modern Odishans still consider themselves by far Kalingans first, and Odishans later.
The exercise of collaborating on a film was therefore tailored to act as an exercise in questioning preconceived notions of identity. Instead of digging in the earth for historic evidence – this film is more like an ’emotional archeology of sorts’, wherein – the viewer searches within one’s self to find traces, if any, of Kalinga that may remain within his or her notions of identity – as if to investigate the omnipresent ’emotional residues of the lost land of Kalinga’ in modern Odisha.
The video workshop was tailored to act as an exercise in understanding or searching one’s true identity. Instead of digging in the earth for historic evidence – this film is more like an ’emotional archeology of sorts’, wherein – the viewer searches within one’s self to find traces, if any, of Kalinga that may remain within his or her notions of identity – as if to investigate the omnipresent ’emotional residues of the lost land of Kalinga’ in modern Odisha. A salient feature of the video workshop was its intense focus on youngsters, students and enthusiasts who participated with the view to learn the history of video. One of the aims was to include education and practice within the experience of participation; and further to enable learning and development opportunities that modern media offer us. The workshop included intensive art history lectures by Himanshu Desai that covered screenings of well known video artists such as Nam Jun Paik, Peter Campus, Vito Acconci, Valie Export, John Baldessari, Maureen Connor, Norman Cowie, Dimitri Devyatkin, Dan Graham, Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, Bill Viola, Martha Rosler, William Wegman, Gary Hill, Pippiloti Rist, Shirin Neshat to name a few.
Kishan Sharma, Snehlata Maharana, Sanjulata Sahoo, Rupal Satpathy, Ayushi Mohapatra, Sibdas Sengupta, Julius Das, Ankit Rajan Pathak, Parsuram Farak, Biswajit Sahani, Dinesh Kumar Ojha, Swagatika Bhoi, Smrutikanta Rout, Suresh K. Nair, Meenaketan Pattanaik, Jagannath Panda, and Ramakanta Samantaray.
STOP MOTION EXERCISED BY THE PARTICIPANTS (NO AUDIO)
PROMO FOR THE OPEN DAY
COLLABORATIVE EDITING EXERCISE SHOWING A VIDEO FEEDBACK INSTALLATION IN THE STUDIO ROOM
COLLABORATIVE VIDEO WORK BY HIMANSHU DESAI AND SMRUTIKANTA ROUT